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COLUMBIA, Mo. – Leadership skills were in focus for Missouri 4-H youths who attended last month’s Missouri 4-H Week in Columbia. For the first time, the Teen Conference, Missouri 4-H Explores and the State Congress were held on the University of Missouri campus during a weeklong Missouri 4-H Week celebration.
The annual Teen Conference and State Congress are planned by the State 4-H Council, an elected group of 4-H youths who design the workshops and play leadership roles throughout the events.
“4-H offers youth a unique experience that includes people to look up to and ways to help your community,” said Erin Stanley, state 4-H leadership and civic engagement educator. “They get to see these council members in active leadership roles, meet new role models and make new friends. It’s exciting to watch these young teens become more confident and independent in just a 24-hour period.”
“My favorite thing about being on State 4-H Council is being able to network with other kids and then meeting in person at events like State Congress,” said Dawn Sherman, State 4-H Council secretary from Warren County.
“I really enjoyed the family atmosphere of the State Council,” said Nathaniel Hudson, Jasper County, outgoing southwest regional representative.
Teen Conference attendees joined more than 130 of their peers, ages 11-13, from 54 Missouri counties, for workshops and activities on the Mizzou campus. “For many, it’s their first big trip away from home,” Stanley said. “They enjoy leadership workshops led by older teen role models, fun activities and the many new friends they meet along the way.”
The delegates interacted with top leadership from MU Extension. At the opening assembly, Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Marshall Stewart challenged delegates to make the most out of every opportunity they have. Lupita Fabregas, Missouri 4-H program director, engaged with youths during portions of Teen Conference. Delegates also spent time with the 2021-22 State Council.
Missouri 4-H Explores
Missouri 4-H Explores – College and Career Pathways was held during Missouri 4-H Week to let youths explore the educational and career opportunities in Mizzou’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
Participants learned about degree programs at the college, including agricultural education, biochemistry, natural resource science and management, environmental sciences, animal sciences, plant sciences, agricultural systems technology, food science and nutrition, and nutrition and exercise physiology.
Highlights included seeing how drones are used to monitor farm fields, watching the launch of a weather balloon and learning to extract proteins from food items.
Youths reported that after the event they had more knowledge about college life, choosing a career path, preparing for college and the degrees offered by the college.
State 4-H Congress
Missouri 4-H Week concluded with the 76th annual State 4-H Congress. Leadership was again the main focus as more than 80 youths, ages 14-18, attended the two-day event. Youths enjoyed workshops focused on leadership and communication, fun activities and meeting new friends.
“My favorite part of State Congress is getting to meet new people and understanding how the congress works and how it got started, said delegate Mikai Neal. “I also enjoy meeting different kids from different regions.”
Congress delegates also enjoyed opening remarks from Marshall Stewart and interacted with Missouri 4-H program director Lupita Fabregas.
More than 55,000 members strong, Missouri 4-H is an active, dynamic organization of young people who are learning, growing and preparing to be the leaders of today and tomorrow – making a real difference in their community, country and world. 4-H is the youth development program of the University of Missouri and the nation’s Cooperative Extension System. For more information on Missouri 4-H, visit 4h.missouri.edu(opens in new window).